Leadership Essentials: Tips to Help Strengthen Your PTA

Leadership Essentials

Leadership Essentials is just for PTA leaders, featuring timely information and reminders about issues, tasks and responsibilities at any level. Plus, you’ll find helpful tips and news to help strengthen your PTA and leadership skills.

Take a look at the latest issues of Leadership Essentials:

2021

2020

Lourdes Beleche: Putting the ‘T’ in PTA

lourdes_beleche_teacherLourdes Beleche is all about the kids.

A nominee for this year’s Contra Costa County Office of Education Teacher of the Year, Lourdes has taught several grades — including bilingual classes — at Concord’s Cambridge Elementary School (Mt. Diablo Council, Thirty-Second District PTA) for 19 years.

“I love watching students make connections with things they are learning about,” she said. “I love seeing them learn from each other and have discussions, arguments and defend their opinions.”

And in addition to her nearly two decades of teaching dedication, Lourdes is a dedicated PTA member inspired by her mother.

“Even though my mom didn’t speak English, she joined the PTA and volunteered at our elementary school – Nestor Elementary – setting an example for me,” she said.

“Teachers are the ‘T’ in PTA,” added Lourdes, noting how important it is for teachers to be involved. “I believe that, if we want parents to be active on campus, we also need to step out of the classroom and work side-by-side with them.”

Do you know an inspiring PTA volunteer or member like Lourdes? Let us know: Share your story with socialmedia@capta.org.

 

Per Capita Membership Dues

Some PTAs prefer to offer varied membership enrollment levels for students, school staff and families and donors. In each instance the amount of per-capita forwarded must be according to the council, district State and National PTA amounts. These membership packages require special attention by the membership chairman and the treasurer to assure members receive their memberships cards and the correct amounts are remitted to council and district PTA.

In article IV, Membership, Section 4, insert this language by hand or typewritten:

  • Each faculty member of the association shall pay annual per capita dues of ____dollars and ____ cents ($_____) to the association.
  • Each student member of the association shall pay annual per capita dues of ____dollars and ____ cents ($_____) to the association.
  • Each member of the association shall pay annual dues of _____dollars and ____cents ($_______) per member (also means per capita) to the association, or _____ dollars and _____ cents ($_____) per family of _____ (number) members.

Questions

  • Contact your council PTA president, treasurer and/or parliamentarian if in council.
  • If out of council, contact your district PTA president, treasurer and/or parliamentarian.

Running Your PTA… Made Easy

One of the wonderful benefits of belonging to PTA is the support system it offers.

Running Your PTA… Made Easy provides simplified summaries of the PTA basics that all PTA board members should know. It covers meetings, recruiting volunteers, finance, membership and more.

Reading this basic guide will enhance your experience as a PTA leader and provide you with information on topics you will be likely to reference throughout your term of office.

Download here.

Signing Contracts and Paying Bills

Signing contracts…Who, what, why, where and when

Annually, many PTAs enter into a variety of contracts, such as contracting with a band to provide live music for a school dance, or to purchase supplies for student spirit stores or for fundraising ventures. “PTA assumes full responsibility to comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and to pay the agreed-upon sum. The fact that the activity or fundraiser may not be a financial success or the PTA has insufficient funds to meet the obligation has no effect on the responsibility assumed.” (National PTA PTA Finance Quick Reference Guide).

Contracts are “legally enforceable agreements between two or more persons or organizations.”  To find guidelines and written resources pertaining to signing contracts, refer to the California State PTA Toolkit, Finance, Policies and Procedures, Contracts; and National PTA’s PTA Finance Quick Reference Guide.

Before entering into a contract on behalf of PTA, consider the following:

  • Has the membership approved the project?
  • Does the president have authorization from the board/executive committee to negotiate a contract?
  • Have all proposed contracts been received in writing?
  • Are the terms and conditions understood by and agreed to by the board/executive committee?
  • Do you need review by legal representation?
  • Is the length of the contract limited to the term of the participating officers, not to encumber future boards?

If the vendor wants the PTA to sign a contract with a “hold harmless clause” the association should contact the California State insurance broker before signing. A hold harmless clause in the vendor’s favor places the responsibility on the PTA for injury or damages.

PTAs are required to obtain a “hold harmless agreement” and “evidence of insurance” from each vendor, concessionaire, or service provider who provides service for PTA projects or events. Instead of providing “evidence of insurance” to each individual unit, businesses may file an annual copy of coverage with the California State PTA insurance broker. A list of approved vendors is updated each month and is included in the insurance section of the California State PTA website.

When entering into a contract, the PTA president is responsible for the agreement and should clearly identify that it is the PTA entering into the contract and not the president or second elected officer as individuals. The signatures on a written contract should read, “____________ PTA (unit, council or district PTA) by: John Doe, president and Mary Smith, vice president.” (California State PTA Toolkit.)

PTA officers cannot enter into any contracts before they legally take office. Remember, if there is any question about the terms or conditions of the contract, the proper time to seek advice is before signing – not after.

 

Paying bills between association meetings

Bylaws For Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article VIII, Section 2c, states, “The executive board may authorize payment of other unbudgeted association bills not to exceed accumulative total of ($___ amount ) and ($___ amount ) between meetings of the association. Ratification of payment of these bills must occur at the next association meeting and must be recorded in the association minutes.”

What exactly does this mean? When you adopt the annual budget at the beginning of the fiscal year, you are NOT authorizing expenditure of the money. A budget is a financial representation of the estimated costs of planned activities and programs a PTA/PTSA expects to put on during a specific time period. It is a guideline for estimating income and expenditures. An expense is first estimated, then actuated, then the budget is adjusted accordingly, if necessary, as the PTA year proceeds. This budget must be presented to and approved (or adopted) by the general membership by majority vote at the first meeting of the fiscal year. A revised budget is usually presented mid-year and requires a two-thirds (2/3) vote.

As the PTA program continues, expenses are incurred. Each expense must be approved by the membership, either before the expenditure or after. Despite the best planning, expenses will occur between meetings and it is not always convenient to wait until the next association to pay the bill or to repay the person who spent the funds. Article VIII, Section 2c, provides the means to pay unexpected expenses without waiting for prior approval.

The treasurer must track bills paid without prior authorization between meetings to ensure the total amount does not exceed the limit specified in the bylaws. All bills to be paid must be presented with receipts. The amounts paid are then ratified by the membership at the next scheduled association meeting.

Further information may be found in your bylaws, the California State PTA Toolkit, and National PTA’s President and PTA Finance Quick Reference Guides.

Term Limits and Officers

TERM LIMITS EXPLAINED

Yes, it’s true. PTA has term limits! You’ll find them clearly stated in your unit, council, or district bylaws.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, including the phrase, “or until their successors have been elected” is necessary to allow for an officer removal and subsequent election of a new officer within the same term. It does not extend the length of the term nor does it allow for a person to continue holding a position into the next term.

PTA or PTSA unit term of office: Officers shall serve for a term of one (1) year or until their successors are elected. (In the event that no successor is elected, the position is declared vacant. Vacant positions must be filled by the executive board-elect or executive board, per Article IV, Section 11 and Section 12.) No officer shall be eligible to the same office for more than two consecutive terms or hold more than one elected or appointed office.

An election must be declared “null and void” whenever discovery is made that the individual elected did not meet the qualifications for office as stated in the bylaws. For example, an individual who has served two consecutive terms in the same position IS NOT ELIGIBLE for election to an additional term in the same position. Otherwise, with few exceptions, a challenge to procedures or outcome must be made at the election meeting. For assistance contact the district PTA, and refer to the California State PTA Toolkit and Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised, Contesting the Announced Results of an Election and Point of Order sections.

Remember, bylaws cannot be set aside, so mentor potential officers now!

 

Co-officer alternatives

The California State PTA and Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised – PTA’s parliamentary authority – do not recognize co-officers. “Co-officer” implies two people of equal rank sharing one position. Only one name may be listed for each office and only one individual may vote for the office held. A second individual cannot be listed for any office and forfeits the right to vote as an officeholder.

PTA bylaws include the positions of president-elect, corresponding secretary and financial secretary to provide assistance to the association’s primary officers: president, secretary and treasurer.

Bylaws may be amended to include additional officers to share the workload. When further circumstances arise that require more than one person to handle the duties of a particular position, an assistant or deputy position may be created, with or without voting privileges at executive board meetings, or the duties may be handled by committee.

Each year PTAs report the names and addresses of all elected officers. If there are co-positions of any kind, the California State PTA can only forward one name to National PTA. That person will receive all mailings, be eligible to vote, attend conventions, conduct meetings, etc. If for some reason the president is unable or fails to act, the vice-president shall take over the duties, temporarily or until the end of the term, as directed (Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article VI, Sections 2 and 3). The bylaws offer the position of executive vice president as an assistant to the president.

Learn more about:

Meeting Notice, Quorums and Voting

ADEQUATE MEETING NOTICE

Article VII, Section 1, states that “whenever members are required or permitted to take any action at a meeting, a written notice of the meeting shall be given not less than 10 days nor more than 90 days before the date of the meeting to each member who, on the recorded date for the notice of the meeting, is entitled to vote at such meeting.” Such notice is a stipulation of California Corporations Code.

To meet this requirement, presidents may use a variety of ways to publish each meeting agenda listing the general nature of business to be conducted ten (10) days before association meetings. The quorum for a meeting is established in the bylaws with the caution that “if this bylaw provision authorizes a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, then only those matters the general nature of which was contained in the notice of the meeting may be voted upon at such meeting.” This, too, is California Corporations Code.

Since virtually all PTAs state a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, all PTAs are bound by this additional requirement. Items of business which were not in the notice may NOT be acted upon at that particular meeting, but may be discussed and placed on the agenda for action at the next meeting.

Executive board meeting notices and agenda must also be provided to the executive board members ten (10) days prior to executive board meetings.

For the annual meeting, when elections are held, or for meetings at which bylaws amendments are to be adopted, a minimum 30 days’ meeting notice is required. The slate of nominees must be presented in writing to the association’s members 28 days in advance of the annual meeting.

While the agenda does not need to be detailed, it does need to provide information to members about the business to be considered. “Written notice” may include, but is not limited to, publishing the information in the PTA newsletter, providing it at the bottom of current meeting agenda (when the next meeting is 90 days or fewer), posting it at school, posting it on the PTA Web site, or sending it via e-mail.

Adequate care must be taken that the information is accessible to all members; therefore, consideration must be given as to whether members have computers and access to e-mail or the Internet on a daily basis. The methods used must provide reasonable assurance that all voting members have received the notice.

 

QUORUMS

Frequently members of organizations are absent. The business of the organization must be accomplished. The business should not be bound by an “unrepresentively small number of individuals who might attend a meeting.” To prevent this underrepresentation, a quorum – minimum number of members who must attend – is required for a meeting to conduct business.

When no quorum is present the body can do only limited business: hear reports, and set the meeting date and location for the next meeting. A substantive action taken without a quorum is invalid.

A body loses its right to conduct business, if during the meeting, members leave and the remainder no longer satisfies the quorum.

The chair should confirm whether the quorum has been met at the beginning of the meeting.

Unit bylaws describe the quorum required for association meetings and executive board meetings.

Unless otherwise stated in the bylaws or standing rules, the quorum for a committee is a simple majority of the members sitting on a committee or one half plus one (Toolkit, Committee Development and Guidelines). See Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article IX, Section I.

The quorum for an association meeting is established in the bylaws with the caution that “if this bylaw provision authorizes a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, then only those matters the general nature of which was contained in the notice of the meeting may be voted upon at such meeting.” This, too, is California Corporations Code.

Since virtually all PTAs state a quorum of less than one-third of the voting power, all PTAs are bound by this additional requirement. Items of business which were not in the notice may NOT be acted upon at that particular meeting, but may be discussed and placed on the agenda for action at the next meeting. Standing Rules **3, and 4 provide further information.

Quorums are not to be confused with the vote required to adopt a motion.

 

VOTING

A member must be enrolled for 30 days in order to be eligible to vote. California State PTA membership year is from July 1 to June 30 of each year, with an annual grace period to rejoin until October 31.

Voting may be conducted by voice vote, standing vote, roll call vote, and ballot vote. Refer to Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, or Roberts Rules of Order In Brief.

Unless specified otherwise in the bylaws, the outcome of a vote is determined by the majority (more than one half excluding blanks and abstentions) of those present, eligible to vote and voting. Exceptions, which require two-thirds (2/3) are bylaws amendments, motions to amend something previously adopted,  including revised budgets and programs, etc.

No member may be forced to vote. A member who wishes not to vote may remain silent during a voice vote or roll call vote, or may submit a blank ballot during a ballot vote. The vote is not counted.

PTA elections, when there are two or more candidates, require a majority vote by ballot to determine the officer. This means one candidate must receive more than one half of the votes cast. The ballot must be repeated until one candidate receives a majority vote or one candidate withdraws. The outcome of the ballot vote is recorded in the minutes.

The secretary (and/or treasurer) maintains each year’s official membership list. The list is updated for each association meeting. If a current membership list is not available at the association meeting, then all present are eligible to vote.

Engaging Men in PTA

There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States. That means 70 million possibilities for PTA membership, inclusion, engagement and strength for our schools and kids.

One out of every three children in America —more than 24 million in total — live in a home without their biological father present, according to a 2012 White House Fatherhood Report.  And, roughly one out of every three Hispanic children and more than half of African-American children also live in homes without their biological fathers.

More engaged fathers and father figures — whether living with or apart from their children — can help foster a child’s healthy physical, emotional and social development.  There’s no doubt of the positive impact male role models can have on their children’s lives.

MEMBERSHIP: MAKE IT ABOUT MEN

DadsRecruiting men as PTA members may mean rethinking how your PTA is run on a day-to-day basis. If your PTA mostly relies on female caregivers, reaching out to men may involve breaking down barriers and trying new approaches and strategies:

  • Communicate directly to dads – How you and your PTA speak to members and potential members can impact the level of men’s involvement. Simply slimming down language and shortening messages in your communications can be more appealing to male readership. And be always sure to explain and emphasize how men’s unique involvement benefits kids.
  • Just ask – Nearly half of men who responded to a recent National PTA survey said they haven’t gotten involved with PTA simply because they weren’t asked. Those involved said their spouses’ participation led to their own involvement. So encourage women in your PTA to invite the men in their children’s lives to get involved, and take your PTA to places with large male contingents – such as service clubs – to share our message and ask for participation and membership.
  • Create men-focused groups and events – Surveys also show that men prefer to volunteer for hands-on projects and dad-only events with clear expectations. So organize special events and groups for dads to enjoy working on and being involved with together and define volunteer roles and expectations.
  • Respect men’s time – More than 70 percent of recently surveyed dads said time was a barrier to PTA involvement, and the majority said they wanted fewer meetings at more convenient times. Make efforts to schedule workdays in mind for all parents and organize results-driven meetings with clear agendas and topics.
  • Celebrate engagement – When you start getting more men involved, it’s great to celebrate! Letting the school community know will help emphasize and publicize your welcoming environment for all parents and members. Thank dads publicly at meetings and in your PTA communications, and always encourage more male membership – we’re all in it together for our kids!

NATIONAL NEED FOR MALE ENGAGEMENT

More than 1 million men visit schools across America each year as part of the National PTA MORE Alliance (Men Organized to Raise Engagement).

Organizations in PTA MORE are dedicated to raising the level of engagement between children and the important men in their lives. Members of PTA More serve as conduits for greater father and significant-male involvement, resulting in positive outcomes and successful relationships for children, parents, schools and communities.

PTA MORE:

  • Works with schools and communities to provide programs to engage fathers and positive male figures in the educational and social development of children.
  • Develops male leaders who work with fathers and male role models to enhance positive male parenting and involvement with youth.
  • Acts as a resource for families, communities and schools on fatherhood initiatives and issues
  • Increases visibility and outreach of quality programming by coalition members.

To learn more about PTA MORE, read an article on this PTA initiative and visit National PTA.